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IDC: Double-digit global smartphone growth in second quarter

Analyst finds global consumers around the world continue to show the need for mobile devices, and a particular increasing willingness to buy 5G devices as price points go down

Shrugging aside supply concerns and supplier shakeups, and as evidenced clearly by the mountain of iPhones shipped in the period, the rebound from 2020 continued for smartphones in the second quarter of 2021 (2Q21), as overall shipment volumes grew 13.2% year-on-year according to research from IDC.

This meant, said the analyst’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone suppliers shipped a total of 313.2 million devices during the quarter, which the study concluded offered further proof that the market is headed back toward sustained growth.

Every region contributed to the overall growth except for China, where the lack of flagship product launches, weaker than expected demand, and the further decline of the Huawei brand pulled the market down 10% compared with the second quarter of 2020.

“The smartphone market has been fortunate enough to not experience the severe supply constraints as the automotive, PC, and display industries,” said Ryan Reith, programme vice-president with IDC’s Mobile and Consumer Device Trackers.

“The pandemic is far from over, yet consumers around the world continue to show the need for mobile devices and a willingness to spend in these categories,” he said. “Shipments of 5G devices are on the rise, especially as price points go down, but we continue to believe that consumers are not yet buying specifically for 5G. They are buying because they need a replacement device, and in some cases a first-time smartphone.”

And with the aforementioned continued decline in Huawei device shipments continuing to decline and the recent announcement that LG is exiting the smartphone business, IDS stressed that market share is up for grabs. This it says has already resulted in some significant shifts in the market positions of the remaining companies.

Indeed, IDC’s data showed Xiaomi moving into the second position for the first time in Q2 21, moving Apple to third. In the markets where Huawei and LG are strongest (China and the USA, respectively), IDC noted that companies face different chances of gaining that share. In the US, Motorola, TCL, and OnePlus experienced year-over-year gains beyond what they have seen in recent years due to LG’s departure.

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In China, it was Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo and Apple that principally continued to gain from Huawei's rapid decline. This all came as Apple announced that in its quarter to 26 June 2021, iPhone sales were $39.57bn, up 49.8%, and $153.1bn for the nine months, climbing 37.5% annually.

“China’s role in Apple's incredible growth in the last few quarters cannot be denied. Huawei had significant share in the high-end segment in China, and with its massive decline, Apple remained the best option for consumers in this segment,” added Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Mobile and Consumer Device Trackers.

“In the previous quarter (1Q21), Apple had already captured 72% share of the >$800 segment in China, with Huawei falling to just 24%. This is a clear sign that other players in this market have not breached this price segment.

“Globally, all Chinese brands are growing rapidly, with Xiaomi hitting record volume this quarter and year-over-year growth of 86.6%. Another rising star is Realme, which saw the fastest year-over-year growth among the top 10 at 149% and more than three quarters of its volume coming from outside China.”

Going forward into Q3, IDC forecast that as the Chinese brands increase their focus in regions like Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa, the competition will only get more intense for the likes of Samsung and other players in those markets..

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